This week on Earth Beat we hit the streets for low-impact transport tales from around the world - from biking in Beijing, to pedal-powered garbage removal in the US, to floating aerodynamic travel pods in New Zealand. We'll also explore the sounds of the city - and how they're pollution too.
The American city of Northampton has no municipal garbage service, so residents have to pay a private hauler. And more and more of them are paying a hauler that’s carbon-free – a company that uses bikes. Pedal People is a cooperative that bills itself as “a human-powered delivery and hauling service”. Ruthy Woodring, one of its founding members, joins Marnie to talk about it.
There are many, many places in the world where simply having the chutzpah to take get behind the handlebars is asking for trouble. So it is in the Indian capital New Delhi. And if the traffic isn’t bad enough, the air quality is only just breathable. Writer and Delhi resident Omair Ahmad decided to forgo the car and bike to work, a decision he may yet live to regret.
Biking in Beijing
There are about six million bikes in Beijing, but they may be an endangered species because now, they have competition: cars. Three and a half million of them. And that number grows by another thousand every day. Our Beijing correspondent Karen Meirik reports first-hand on the struggle between car and bike on the streets of China’s capital.
Shweeb over the traffic
As we’ve heard, bikes are having a tough time staying on the road in the world’s megacities, where chaotic traffic and pollution make for an unpleasant, sometimes life-threatening, ride. So why not lift up off the ground, get in a reclining bicycle capsule, and start floating over the traffic jams at high speeds? Geoffrey Barnett is the inventor of the Shweeb, and he joins Marnie from Rotorua, New Zealand to explain.
Envirominute: Electric cars
Electric cars are generating momentum and are expected to accelerate, but when will there be enough juice to feed them all? Earth Beat producer Fiona Campbell has a 60-second explanation.
100% Electric Commuting
Earth Beat reporter Thijs Westerbeek set out to find someone who uses a fully electric car to get to work. And he did: Marjan Minnersma, director of the Dutch Urgenda Association which promotes electric driving. He went out to her farm to take her "Th!nk" for a spin.
THE SOUND OF THE CITY
An orchestra of urban sound
How do the sounds of our urban environment affect us? What are people doing to try to influence “city noise”? Meet Hans Peter Kuhn, a German sound artist and composer, who for the last four years has been collecting sounds for a curious orchestral work.
Schubert in the Tube
Sound is used in, say, elevators to achieve a supposedly pleasant effect. But what if the space is much larger and there are millions of people stomping through the space? More than 80 London Underground stations are now playing a repertoire of classical music meant to sooth travellers and repel troublemakers. The man responsible for choosing the playlist is Simon Bray from the music agency Broadchart. He explains to Marnie why they introduced music in the tube.
Positive Soundscapes Project
In urban planning, there seems to be very little consideration into how cities should sound beyond how loud noise is. The Positive Soundscapes Project is at the forefront of research to create a deeper understanding of soundscapes. Artists and technicians from 5 English Universities are collaborating to find out what sounds we like and how our cities could sound in the future. Dr Bill Davis, the project leader, is from Salford University in Manchester, North England, and joins Marnie to explain.
NEXT WEEK ON EARTH BEAT
We find out how an organic garden in a Nairobi slum has helped improve both the soil and people’s lives.
“This place used to be a bad place. Now this place is safe. Through hard work you can gain something.”